British farce, when done well, is some of my favorite entertainment, and I personally enjoy the fact that the comedy series Fawlty Towers is set in the seaside town of Torquay, England, which happens to be my birthplace. Hoping for the best, on Friday night I attended the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre's production of authors Philip King's and Falkland L. Cary's Big ... Bad ... Mouse! I was a bit disappointed, however, to find that this 1964 show's overall pacing and tone were more representative of broad American comedy than illustrative of “proper” English farce.

Given its completely sold-out run, it’s hard to say that you should rush to get your tickets to see the Black Box Theatre’s production of Rock of Ages. But for those lucky enough to have tickets – or to find some way to get them – you're in for a good time.

I am biased. Because as a former member (1985-86) of our area's performing wait staff of Bootleggers, I watched No Business Like Show Business feeling proud, and even blessed, to experience this stage retrospective – a celebration of the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse's 40 years of producing live theatre in the Quad Cities.

The music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton elevate this story of a fading diva to an almost operatic level, and Quad City Music Guild is currently presenting the Sunset Boulevard musical with Broadway-worthy sets, costumes, and performances. Bravo!

I left Friday’s opening-night performance of Brighton Beach Memoirs – the final show in the Mississippi Bend Players' inaugural season – with several thoughts on my mind: (1) How do I review something of this caliber? (2) Everyone should go see this, so they, too, can realize how lucky we are to have such talent in the Quad Cities. (3) This show is so good I wish I was a part of it!

Making a silk purse from a sow’s ear. That’s what director/ choreographer Ann Nieman and her talented cast and crew are doing in the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse's Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, but why on Earth anyone would try to rehabilitate this porker is quite beyond me. Don’t get me wrong, though: At evening's end, I, along with seemingly every other patron in the house for the July 20 preview, heartily applauded during the curtain call. Even though I think the material is awful, the production itself is very good.

Last week, some friends and I got on the topic of uncomfortable theatre experiences in shows we were in, and I shared one from an opening-night performance in which our lead walked on-stage and uttered the play’s very first line, and an elderly voice in the audience demanded, “Speak up!!!” Regardless of that individual’s age and/or hearing, I considered it a rather rude bit of heckling. But on Sunday, I saw Genesius Guild’s production of Henry V, and ... . Well, let’s just say that I now have more sympathy for that clearly frustrated patron.

Have you ever watched an intense horror flick and felt complete frustration as the victim makes a really questionable choice and ends up in a formerly avoidable, now-inevitable and desperate situation, and you say to yourself, “No-o-o-o!!! Why did she do that?!”? If so, you’ll understand some of my experience on Friday night during the Mississippi Bend Players’ production of Wait Until Dark.

With its focus on gatherings held when the women are 44, 49, 54, and 77, the script requires quick repartee and timing, and under the direction of Jacque Cohoon, the stage quintet does not disappoint. At the July 11 preview performance, in fact, the audience's laughter came so often, and was so hearty, that the actresses – complete with Southern accents and charm – had to sometimes wait for it to die down, although they consistently kept the pace lively and energetic.

Sixty-six characters, a beheading, star-crossed lovers, a woman and child on the run, wedding and funeral parties for the same guy (on the same day), a crazy judge, songs, and another beheading all add up to an incredible evening of theatre courtesy of Bertolt Brecht and the Prenzie Players. Brecht is known for his “epic theatre” works and, true to form, the Prenzies' staging of The Caucasian Chalk Circle incorporates a play-within-a-play – or rather, a parable-within-a-play – alongside social commentary, occasionally absurd humor, sentimentality, satire, and music. (Whew!) And meeting this challenge are director Kate Farence, her creative crew, and her stellar cast of 15 (10 of whom play multiple roles),  who made for exciting theatre on July 14's opening night.